Let Them See Plays! The Revolutionists Return to Live Theatre
This year’s Fall Theatre production, The Revolutionists, took place Nov. 4, 5, 6 and Nov. 11, 12, 13. Written by Lauren Gunderson and Directed by Amy L. Sarno, the audience is brought to 1793 Paris, where playwright Olympe de Gouge (Played by The Round Table’s Autumn Green’24) knows The Reign of Terror must be written about. Olympe is suffering from writer’s block when she is interrupted by three other women who demand her services. Hatian spy Marianne Angelle (Mezekerta Tesfay’23) is in need of pamphlets for her fight against slavery; Charlotte Corday (Leilani Schaller’24) wants a final line to cry as she murders a Jacobian; and Marie Antoinette (Sage Green’21) is desperate for a rewrite, one that brings her power and status back. As Olympe develops her story it becomes clear that the play she writes is the play the audience is currently watching.
This feminist comedy brings together an unlikely group, who explore each other’s social positions, and eventually form tentative friendships that strengthen through the story. While funny and entertaining, the story delves into the nuance of revolutionary France, and with it the social, class, racial, and gender influences of the time, some which apply today.
Most uniquely, the audience holds an active role in the performance. The play is written to hold space for the fact that the stories of these characters are only impactful if someone reads them. At the end of the show, the house lights come up as the women speak directly to the audience, including them in the scene.
The Actors truly made the play feel real. Green’s dialectal acting was flawless, especially the fluttery laugh that was strategically used to imply mood shifts in each scene. This four person cast blended seamlessly together, the chemistry between them was truly there, a sign of good acting and smart casting.
The production team made the story come to life. The set design was simply stunning. The way that Olympe’s office fit perfectly underneath the platform holding the (nonfunctioning) Guillotine reflected that each of the women had to choose to follow their hearts and instincts, but face the guillotine, or remain silent and live.
The main set, designed by Eric Moslow, was a beautiful recreation of 18th century interior design. There was no flowery decorative wallpaper, but stark white walls with dark wood paneling, true to the rejection of the ornate Rococo style just before the revolution.The wood french doors were well used by the actors, sometimes softly opening and other times thrown open in emotion. The sensory stimulation of the set was strong. It was almost as if one could hear the quiet moments and jump at the loud ones, but beyond the volume of speech. A good story can not only be heard with the ears, but also the mind, and the set and costumes only added to that.
Costume Designer Shelbi Wilkin pulled off the feat of combining modern trends with historical fashion in a subtle, yet powerful way. Each costume was a reflection of the role the character played in the story. Olympe, the forward-thinking dreamer of the group, wore a full length skirt with matching underlayer pants that perfectly encapsulated her fascination with what the future of France would be. Marianne’s traditional Hatian print skirt and top represented her home, while the red suffragette-style sash made her place in society clear. Charlotte’s garb was an ode to the everyday post-revolution woman. Her modest full length skirt and shawl are classic middle class garb of the time and really solidified her role as the frustrated citizen woman.
And Marie. Marie’s costume was impossible not to love. The giant skirt swished and swayed wherever she went, in true inconvenience of high class Rococo fashion. The ribbons that tied up the skirt gave Marie a built in people, which was certainly utilized by Green. The shocking teal and hot pink color scheme added a modern twist, those pigments didn’t even exist at the time, but it only stood out in the way it was meant to, royally frivolous. The true fun of the design were the bright pink glitter boots worn underneath. Totally modern but harnessed the energy of how Marie was perceived by the public, an ignorant monarch who only cared about her expensive clothing and parties, at the expense of her starving nation.
The hard work of the cast, crew, and faculty was nothing but evident in this production. The entire department came together harmoniously to make this show a success. Congratulations to all the talented people that made this show possible, you made this return to live theatre impeccable!